KCI provided professional engineering services to perform a comprehensive water system audit, and develop and implement a program for leak detection, condition assessment and leak repairs for both small and large water mains and related water infrastructure in the city of Baltimore.
Faced with aging infrastructure, Baltimore’s Bureau of Water and Wastewater experiences a significant amount of unaccounted water—lost between treatment plants and consumers—due to meter inaccuracies, reading errors or leaky pipes. KCI, along with subconsultant M.E. Simpson Co. Inc., conducted a comprehensive water audit to minimize water loss by identifying leaks and inaccurate meters, and prioritizing repairs using a customized geographic information system (GIS).
The mobile data collection application integrates existing GIS mapping, GPS tracking, field-deployed WWAN, and real-time database synchronization.
Alan E. FosterGeographic Information Systems Analyst
The city operates and maintains two filtration plants and more than 3,800 miles of water main to serve more than 1.8 million people in the region. The system includes more than 19,000 fire hydrants and 400,000 meters. Previous reports had estimated the city’s water loss at approximately 20 percent.
All master meters that measure flow from treatment plants were tested for accuracy. The team also blanketed the system to listen for leaks using transducer microphones and in-pipe devices. Using portable computers, technicians entered the noise correlation from multiple locations into a custom GIS application. Our team of geospatial analysts and programmers developed the software to record and track the leak location, while linking it to the associated feature in the city’s existing GIS.
To report leaks, crews use a KCI-developed mobile application that can be run from any mobile device in the field. The app allows field operators to identify the leaking feature, collect information about the leak and, upon submittal, generate a report that will be sent to a maintenance supervisor. This mobile application allows multiple teams from both the city and consultant to report leaks in a consistent manner and without the need for specialized equipment. City staff can then view the leak information and report in near real time through the DPW Utility Viewer web application. Leak data collected by crews integrates with the GIS and feeds a multitude of citywide programs including ongoing efforts to clean and exercise valves throughout the network, customer service request (CSR), maintenance operations – both emergency and planned – to the utility and the development an overall capital improvement program.
The project also called for a condition assessment of the water infrastructure. KCI developed a protocol that evaluates every pipe in terms of likelihood and consequence of failure, or condition and criticality. The protocol quantifies the condition of a water main based on its condition and criticality scores, allowing repairs and scheduled maintenance to be prioritized based on need and impact.